Wings GM: Play 'unacceptable;' mum on Blashill

Ted Kulfan

Detroit — There was no sugarcoating it, and general manager Ken Holland didn’t even try to do so.

Saturday’s 10-1 loss in Montreal was about 48 hours old, but it still stuck with Holland in his office Monday afternoon.

“Unacceptable,” Holland said. “The last five periods we’ve played have been embarrassing and unacceptable. We didn’t play smart or as a unit. We have to respond now. We have one of the best teams in the league (Winnipeg) coming into our place (Tuesday). It’s a matter of how we respond.”

The Red Wings are winless in seven games (0-4-3) and are beginning to sink in the Eastern Conference standings.

They’re falling behind teams, and as last year showed, it’s difficult to pass a number of teams once you’re behind in the standings.

“I’m concerned,” Holland said. “We have to win some games. We have to string some wins together. We’ve put ourselves in a position where over the next 15 games, we have to play above .500 hockey.”

Holland wouldn’t comment on the status of coach Jeff Blashill, whose future has been speculated on by analysts and fans alike, as the Red Wings (10-12-5, 25 points) have had alternating good and bad streaks. Blashill has one year left on his contract, while Holland’s contract at the end of this season.

Stuck in a long winless streak, and coming off a particularly embarrassing loss in Montreal, the Red Wings returned to work Monday.

The Red Wings did make a personnel move, sending forward Scott Wilson to Buffalo for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick, but aside from that, players focused on the job ahead which Tuesday includes playing the Western Conference-leading Winnipeg Jets (17-6-4, 38 points).





“There’s enough said in here behind closed doors, with coaches,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Enough talk. We have to go out and show that we are a team and we stick together and play for one another.”

The speculation surrounding Blashill has died down two days after the loss in Montreal, but it could pick up again if the Red Wings’ aren’t competitive against Winnipeg, or Saturday against St. Louis.

“I don’t even pay attention,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard of the rumors around the team. "I don’t even know what’s out there.

“We just have to do better as a whole.”

Players agreed the losing isn’t on Blashill and his assistants, but rather on themselves.


“Absolutely, it’s all good,” Jonathan Ericsson said, on whether the message is getting from the coaching staff to the players. “We’re all on the same page, all of us. We just have to find a way to do it on the ice.”

Said Zetterberg: “It’s not on the coaches, not on the system, it’s up to us in here to go out and perform better. Win your battles, go out and show more passion, and show more grit.

“We’ll do that tomorrow (against Winnipeg).”

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Blashill’s message remained largely the same Monday, maintaining faith this team can turn things around.

“I’ve been in this business for a long time and you go through stretches like this,” Blashill said. “You have to keep grinding, you can never, ever, let yourself as a group slump at all, and you have to keep your head up and grind, and find ways to win.

“In order to win, you have to take a punch. When things aren’t good, it gets harder to get up. Nobody gets you out of it other than yourself. We have to find a way to get out of it.”

Zetterberg criticized himself and his teammates after Saturday’s outcome, saying the defeat was an embarrassment to anybody who has worn the winged wheel.

“I didn’t want that just to be a loss because it wasn’t just a loss,” Zetterberg said. “The way we lost, I’ve never been part of that before. I want them to realize, too, that everyone who hasn’t maybe played for that long, realize that was bad and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Said Blashill: “When you’re sitting on the bench our you’re representing the winged wheel either by wearing it or coaching it, and you have a loss like that, that’s ugly, that’s embarrassing. Is it powerful? Yeah, it’s powerful. It’s important for guys that have been around this organization a long time that have had tons of success, to remind our younger players or new players that this isn’t any organization — you’re representing the Detroit Red Wings.”